Scottsdale, AZ – (November 3, 2015) Today, Digital Air Strike, the automotive social media and digital engagement company, released the findings of its fifth annual Automotive Social Media Trends Study. The Study highlights consumer behaviors on social networks, review sites, and mobile devices related to the car shopping, buying, and service experience, and signals consumer expectations of auto dealerships and their sales and service staff relative to dealership social presence, online reputation and mobile and digital engagement.
The study – produced by Digital Air Strike – includes findings from 2,000 car buyers and 2,000 service customers who either purchased or serviced a vehicle within the previous six months. The study — with data collected in the past 45 days — covers all major U.S. geographic regions and represents domestic and foreign automotive brands, with even distribution across age and gender groups.
Top trends revealed by the Study include:
- 75 percent of car buyers and 68 percent of service customers say internet research, including social media and review sites, was the most helpful medium when selecting a car dealership – surpassing all other mediums including dealership websites which ranked highest with only 16 percent of car buyers (down from 19 percent in 2014 and 24 percent in 2013)
- This is the third consecutive study where car buyers have ranked social networks as more important than dealership websites in their dealership selection process. Car buyers listed the most helpful mediums as follows:
- 50 percent ranked review sites as the most influential dealership selection tool (up from 45 percent over prior year)
- 18 percent ranked review sites and a dealership’s website as equally influential
- 16 percent ranked a dealership’s website as most influential (down from 19 percent over prior year)
- 97 percent of service customers and 96 percent of car buyers feel a dealership needs to have at least a four-star rating or higher on review sites to have a “good rating”
- 83 percent of service customers surveyed say online review sites substantially helped them in their dealership selection process
- 75 percent of car buyers (up from 74 percent over the prior year) and 63 percent of service customers would travel up to 60 miles to do business at a dealership with good reviews – stressing the importance of a positive online reputation and how it can in essence expand a dealer’s primary market area
- Vehicle incentives and coupons on social media are a big draw, as 45 percent of car buyers and 30 percent of service customers said they would “check-in” at a car dealership on Facebook to take advantage of various promotions. Check-ins are valuable as they broadcast to a consumer’s social network as an implied endorsement
- Facebook ads continue to gain use and awareness; 66 percent of car buyers / shoppers or owners who have seen a Facebook ad say they have clicked on it, up from 33 percent in 2014
- Consumers looking to purchase or service a vehicle are doing their research primarily online, with 50 percent of recent car buyers and 69 percent of service customers saying they only visited one dealership before buying/servicing. The statistics affirm a continued trend that consumers now only virtually shop dealers online vs. in person. A prior 2014 study showed the average buyer visits 1.6 dealerships – – down from five dealerships just 10 years ago. (McKinsey, 2014)
- Cars.com and Edmunds.com were ranked by car buyers as the top/most helpful review sites, followed by Google+ and Yelp. Facebook rounded out the top five and CarGurus.com makes its inaugural appearance in the number six spot, beating Yahoo! Local (ranked seven) and DealerRater (ranked eight). Citysearch and MerchantCircle moved up in the rankings while YellowPages.com and Kudzu dropped
“We are pleased to share the latest and most comprehensive study detailing consumer sentiment and emerging trends in social and reputation management for the automotive industry,” said Alexi Venneri, co-founder and CEO of Digital Air Strike. “This year’s Study reveals that consumers are more engaged than ever before in terms of using social media and review sites as the primary tools to select a dealership. Facebook continues to grow in importance as a go to ‘local marketing/advertising’ partner for dealerships. Finally, the Study provides an indicator of emerging social networks and review sites that are moving from challenger to top tier sites for car shopper/buyer/owner consideration.”
UPDATE (11/7/2016): Stay tuned for the 2016 Trends Study, which is coming soon! Bookmark this page. Also check out our webinar upcoming webinar on December 6th, 2016 with Automotive News.